Day 17: Save the Best for Last (of course).

6/23/12

Even without posting a countdown of the days we have left at Woodrow it is obvious to me that our time here is at an end. Every archaeologist has experienced the phenomenon of finding the coolest, most important stuff right at the end of the project. The Woodrow Ruin 2012 project is no exception to this rule. Today, while putting in what was supposed to be a simple exploratory window in Unit 6, we found an excellent hearth. In Unit 5, we have come across what appears to be a bear burial. 3 days left!

Unit 5. Today Erina and Nick continued to work on excavating the trash packed fill in Unit 5. We decided to remove some architectural features we had been leaving in place, mostly large adobe blobs in the NW corner, and the bin previously mentioned. Working around these features had become much too difficult. Once they were removed, the crew continued to excavate in 10 cm levels. Right at the end of the day, we came across several large long bones in a pit in the SW corner of the Unit. Yesterday we though this adobe lined pit may be the edge to a new pithouse. Now, it looks like it is a different feature. Although the long bones are badly decomposing, it was clearly evident to us that they were from a large mammal. Additionally, we found more bear paw bones in context with long bones. We found a bear knee, tibia, and fibula in the unit. We are not finished excavating this feature, and I am excited to find out what else is in this pit.

Unit 5, Prior to Cleaning. Note the pit in the bottom left corner.

Pieces of a bear knee and leg

More Bear Paw Bones

On a side note, there must be some weird voodoo between myself and Baxter when it comes to finding bears in archaeological contexts. While excavating at Chimney Rock in 2009, our unit in Room 5 was largely devoid of artifacts, save for a black bear jaw.

Unit 6. Today was supposed to be a fairly straightforward day for Sean and Erin: expose the small patch of floor between the architectural walls, profile the unit, and then close it. However, we decided to remove the south half of the Classic period cobble wall to better define the occupation history of Units 4 and 6. Both units had two surfaces: the more recent, Classic surface was much poorer, and associated with the cobble wall in the west side of Unit 6, and the earlier, nicer, Transitional surface associated with the adobe wall first identified in Unit 4. This, on its own, is very valuable information to us. However, as we removed a section of the Classic period wall to see what was underneath, we began to notice much ash on the Transitional period floor. Eventually, we were able to define an edge to the ash. We also noticed that the ashy area was lined with several stones. Thus, we found a hearth associated with the Transitional occupation in the units. This is very exciting, as we hope to get an archaeomagnetic date from it. Unfortunately, half of the hearth is to the south outside of Unit 6, and the archaeomag technician visited the site yesterday (once again demonstrating the universal law of archaeology). It is crucial that we get a date from this hearth, thus I am putting out a call to all archaeomagnetic technicians in southwest New Mexico who may be able to help us get a sample!

Hearth in Unit 6

Unit 7. The crew of Unit 7 continued to make good progress today. For all non-archaeologists reading this blog, digging through a jumbled mess of collapsed architecture is no easy task. Still, Esteban and Jane were able to further define the architecture in their unit. They have also recovered numerous artifacts. For me, after spending the day looking at Pithouse period ceramics, it was nice to see some Classic, Style III designs. The crew will continue their work excavating and defining the architecture tomorrow.

Unit 7 at Start of Day

Unit 7 at End of Day

It is hard to believe that we only have three days left! We must finish (or at least get as close as we can) the units, draw profiles, and backfill by June 29th. I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed, but I know everything will be fine. I also am certain we will find the most interesting and cool stuff at the site in the next three days!

Jakob

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